UNBOUND:Visionary Women Collecting Textiles is a charming and enlightening show at Two Temple Place which shows highlights from the collections of seven pioneering women who recognised the importance and craft heritage of textiles, embroidery, clothing, costumes and fabric. It’s a great tour through the pieces which were painstakingly accumulated by collectors who understood how these handmade items could easily have been lost to world.

I’m starting with one of the most recently created textile artworks on show at Two Temple Place.  This triptych of panels byAlice Kettle is entitled Three Caryatids (1989-91) is machine embroidered with beautiful shimmering silks and yarns. It’s huge and very striking.


The main gallery on the first floor was particularly full of treasure.  Yinka Shonibare MBE has made a copy of the last slave ship, The Wanderer reimagined with African batik ‘wax’ printed fabric sails.

It’s always wonderful to see tapestries and fabrics which have been lovingly created for family members – often a daughter preparing for marriage – which are then handed down through the family.

The collectors of early pieces sound like formidable women who would make a point of gathering up examples of fabric on their travels or, in the case of Olive  Matthews who, from the ages of 12, used her pocket money to buy antique clothing and built up a sensational collection of museum-quality examples of clothing from ‘beyond living memory’.

It’s always a pleasure to have the chance to visit Two Temple Place. It’s only open to the public in the first quarter of the year when delightful exhibitions are in place.  Unbound will be there until 19th April, admission free.


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